Collection Descriptions

Finding material in the SBHLA

The best approach for finding material in the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives is to start with the online catalog. This is done through a simple or advanced search. Some researchers may want to search across the finding aids for material. It can be useful to search both the catalog and the finding aids for materials of interest.

Books and Pamphlets

The SBHLA actively collects publications that reflect Baptist life and thought. The book collection is a circulating one for on site users and is a balance of old and new related to Baptist history and religion in America. Specific items include biographies of Baptist leaders, sermon collections, Bible study aids, and works on Christian doctrine, church polity, dissertations, and histories of churches, associations, conventions, and agencies.

The SBHLA's extensive pamphlet collection focuses on the response of Baptists to theological and social questions, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but covers all aspects of Baptist writings.

Archives and Manuscripts

The SBHLA houses selected official records of the following current and former denominational agencies: Foreign Mission Board, Home Mission Board, Executive Committee, Christian Life Commission, Historical Commission, Stewardship Commission, Annuity Board, Brotherhood Commission, Radio and Television Commission, Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Baptist Sunday School Board, and the American Baptist Theological Seminary Commission. The archives holds the personal papers of pastors, missionaries, presidents of the SBC, and denominational leaders. Records of other related Baptist institutions and organizations are also included.

Finding Aids – An index and guide to archival collections.


Annual proceedings and minutes of national, state, and associational Baptist organizations are rich resources for information. Annuals include reports, motions, resolutions, lists of ministers, and statistical information on churches. Some annuals are available in hard copy; others are available on microfilm. A separate Primitive Baptist collection of annuals is maintained.


The massive microfilm collection includes church records, annuals, pamphlets, books, Baptist periodicals and newspapers, and music. Materials related to African-American Baptists, British Baptists (including the Baptist Missionary Society Archives), and Baptists in other countries are also available to researchers.

Most of the microfilm in the collection is available for purchase and searchable through the links below.

Books on microfilm – A directory of books and pamphlets on microfilm.

Serials on microfilm – A directory of the collection of serials on microfilm.

Church Records on microfilm – A directory of the collections of church records on microfilm.

African American Resources on microfilm – A directory of African American Resources on microfilm.

Church Music on microfilm – A directory of the collection of church music on microfilm.


More than 300 current periodicals are available, including Baptist publications from other countries. Hundreds of other discontinued newspapers, journals, newsletters, and other serials published by and about Baptists make up most of the collection. The holdings cover mainly the 19th and 20th centuries. Indexes are available to a few of these publications. The Southern Baptist Periodical Index is available to assist researchers.

Audiovisual Materials

Recordings of oral history interviews with denominational leaders, proceedings of meetings and conventions, sermons, and music are available in this collection. Audio recordings of Southern Baptist Convention meetings began in 1954. Videotapes and motion picture films produced by Southern Baptist Convention agencies, as well as other denominational meetings, are also located here. Motion picture films and filmstrips produced by several agencies of the SBC are located in the collection.


The extensive photograph collection contains images of Baptist leaders, pastors, missionaries, buildings, events, groups, churches, and church events. A sampling of the photograph collection can be viewed in the Photo Gallery. The photograph collection of the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) has been transferred to the SBHLA.

Special Research Collections

British Baptist Material

The Library and Archives includes a significant collection of published material related to British Baptists. The vast majority of the material is on microfilm or microfiche. This material consists of pamphlets, books, sermons, reports, tracts, circular letters, and other archival material.

Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) Archives of England comprises one of the most important mission manuscript collections in the world. The collection covers the modern mission movement, as initiated by English Baptists, from 1792 to 1914. The microfilm collection of 90 reels includes more than 165,000 pages of minutes, committee records, missionary journals and correspondence, and home office correspondence between society officers and missionaries. A finding aid to the collection is available online.

Russian and Eastern European Baptist/Evangelical Material

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives has acquired a vast collection of material on the evangelical sectarian movement in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. The collection includes material related to evangelical groups such as Evangelical Christians, Mennonites, Pentecostals, as well as Baptists. The collection, as a whole, is not confined within narrow denominational bounds, but it includes items dealing with general evangelical interests and problems of church and state.

The collection includes books, pamphlets, periodicals, conference proceedings, and archival material. The Adolf J. Klaupiks Papers (1854-1970) and the Vasily Aleksandrovich Pashkov Papers (1877- 1902) are two major archival collections related to Latvian Baptists and the Russian evangelical movement. Most of the items are available on microfilm.

Primitive Baptist Material

The SBHLA includes a vast collection of Primitive Baptist annuals and periodicals. The Primitive Baptist annuals are filed in a separate location to assist researchers and staff. The collection includes many significant Primitive Baptist periodicals such as Signs of the Times, Friendly Companion, Messenger of Peace, and Gospel Standard. This material is found both on paper and microfilm. Additional Primitive Baptist material is located in the book and pamphlet collections.

Church Music and Hymnals

Rare hymnals dating from 1616 are available to researchers on microfilm or in the W. O. Carver Rare Book Room. Hymnals ranging in scope from The Bay Psalm Book to Sacred Harp to Hymns for the Sunday School of the Baptist Churches can be found in the library, in addition to works compiled by Watts, Broadus, Manly, and Fuller.

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